The White Beast – Chapter 13

Chapter 12 | Landing Page | Chapter 14

The White Beast

A Homeworld Fanfiction

by Crobato

Originally posted April 26, 2001

Chapter 13

“Now is the time of decision,” X’on said. “No matter how small, allies are precious. Join me, with the Nemesis and the White Beast as we purged the Unbound and rebuild the glory of the Imperium. Or be like the Harkk’hah, joining the unconscionable Tiamat and the insane Sekmet with their planet destroyers, preserving their legacy of tampering the histories of rising peoples, in order to cut them down to size and seeding their philosophies of chaos and rebirth.”

Zha smiled then rolled her eyes to the ceiling. “No offence, but I really don’t care much about millennia old feuds. I am trying to build a life here, with one measly outpost, one measly carrier and a few frigates. Count me out; I ‘m too small to have any effect on the scheme of things. In a way, I sympathize with you as we are spiritual kindred, yet you are the Enslavers. If you can retain your grudge and your dreams of empire throughout all the millennia, what about your dreams of enslavement? As far as I can see, you have this Beast creature that I thought was long destroyed, a creature that killed my father. My own father, dammit, and you Mahar, I consider you an accomplice with what I personally consider as murder. On the other hand, you got the Tiamat and their planet destroyers. I have had my run ins with the Tiamat, and to say the least, they’re not the nicest people.”

“This is not a war I should be in. I just want to build my life, discover who I am, and get an honest payment for a good job done. As far as I am concerned, you and the Tiamat should just kill each other and spare everyone in between. We have enough of wars already. “

X’on walked slowly to Zha, then nodded his head at the petite rakish girl. .

“I would expect something better from a kindred, someone like you who is a Starfarer in spirit and in ancestral descent. You disappoint me, Raider. When I first sensed you I thought you had this yearnings about trying to find who you are, what’s your real place in this world, about the real destiny of being a ‘Farer.”

“That was what I first thought,” Zha replied. “Until I saw the likes of you. I see the potential of seeing discovering the beauty of the universe with the powers we are blessed with, not the potential to conquer and subjugate other people. I can you’re disappointed of me, but the feeling is mutual.”

X’on turned around. “It is a shame that you could have discovered a lot more about being a Starfarer. I could have shown you. What a waste of potential Guards, take her away. Bring her to the labs. I want her scanned and examined, but I don’t want her harmed. Raiders with a Starfaring ability such as this Zha girl here are considered mongrels. We want to discover how millenias of mongrelization with lesser races affect the pure Starfarer blood. After that, she can be of great use to me further on.”

“Yeah, what a waste of potential, I mean yours…” Zha snapped back. She protested, kicked and screamed as two burly men in robes grabbed her by the arms and led her away. Her arms madly frailing, one of the men thought he had enough, pulled out a device, electrically shocked her and left her limp and unconsious.

Salim grit his teeth as he watched with outrage. “Father, father, please,” Zhura tried to calm him. “We’re not going to get out of this with rashness. A small weed survives against the raging storm by bending with the wind, as a Taiidan proverb says.”

“I used to be an intelligence officer. I can play,” Salim whispered to Zhura.

X’on inevitably turned to the two scribes. “Now what will it be for you two?”

“I don’t think this is a question of choice,” Salim said. “But we are Scribes. We are pledged to record history as we find it, regardless from what perspective. Since we are presented with an important opportunity, it is our duty to take it.” Salim ate his gut, his insides curdling from the insincerity of his words. At his age he was not scared of dying, nor fear of this Nemesis tyrant. But his greatest concern was the survival of his daughter. If she wasn’t this stubborn, she would still left in safety of the Turan planetoid.”

Or maybe not. The Prophecy was indeed being fulfilled with the very disunity of the Raiders. The For’lym and its cronies like the Res’noo will back the Nemesis, while the rival Harrk’hah and its allies will back the Tiamat and the Sekmet. A civil war among the Raiders will be the end of their race. The Nemesis will go after the Raiders backing the Unbound, and the Unbound will target the Raiders backing the Nemesis.

“Wise choice,” X’on said. “You will be provided with the tools for your record keeping.”

X’on turned to the Kushans. “Well now, what is it going to be?”

“We are hardly representatives of the Daiamid, your exaltedness,” Giirsa said. “We have no power to execute alliances. We also have no use here. Our value with you will lie with our return to Hiigara, where we can speak on your behalf. I ask that you release the Raider Zha so she could take us back to Hiigara.”

“Excellent point, my dear boy,” X’on replied. “And how are you going to represent me in your Daiamid? I hear that they are partial to the Bentusi, who after all, helped you to survive the Mothership journey and the war against the Beast.”

“If they were to know the truth about the history of the galaxy and the atrocities done by the planet destroyers, their opinions can change,” Giirsa explained. “We came here to seek the truth about the long terms origins of the races in this galaxy. We found a considerable measure of it here. I feel that our mission here has been a success for us to find you. Arm us with the necessary information of whom you are and of your civilization, and we will make a case for you.”

“The power of the Nemesis is far greater than what Hiigara can husband with her fleets. Nonetheless, I will value an ally no matter how small and insignificant your Hiigara is, and I do forsee an impact the Hiigaran opinion can have on the much greater Taiidan Republic, and with that, the opinion of well over a hundred worlds. You and your companion here will be released when the time is right. But in the meantime, you will be my guests. My scientists are interested with your Kushan physiology, and I ask that you and the girl must submit to the medical tests. There will be a slight discomfort as typical from these tests, but you will be unharmed and you will be treated well. My guards will take you now.”

X’on paused. “As for you, the Kushan girl named Kuo’ran, I have slightly different plans for you…”

***

“Get me out of here!” Zha screamed till her lungs get worn. What good is it doing? She thought. She should know better about the futility of such actions. The screaming was there to make her feel better that’s all. She needed an outlet.

The technicians poked her in all the undescribable places to get direct cell samples from her. Then she was subjected to all sorts of unbearable scans. While the scans had no pain, she felt her privacy and the sanctity of her body violated and stripped of her secrets. The worst part was having the techs get right up into her butthole to extract some stool samples. They claimed they could not wait for other means.

She took a deep breath and hoped that the annoying little pains from the probing should go away. She felt moody and sad, wanting to cry but held back the tears and the sobs in a show of inner reserve strength. She felt she’s done for. There is no way out, no escape. If they were able to catch her so easy the first time, the second time, without a cloaking frigate or any ship would be a cinch. She felt the ugly certainty of her fate.

There is far little stars here too, she thought as she stared out of the window. This place sucks for dying.

They had taken all her clothes too, including her vest stitched and adorned with countless badges that were momentos of places she has been, trophies she had won, and from the simple appreciation of strangers she met and turned to friends. Instead she was left with a clinically white sterilized blouse with a short skirt and nothing underneath, the kind better suited for sick patients.

She sighed, then turned around to see a figure of what looked like her father sitting right next to her.

She screamed and ran to the corner, holding a pillow like a shield. The guards ignored her, tired of the noises she had been making.

“I am the Zerun-Self. I sense the pain and loneliness of the Zha-Daughter flesh entity. Why do you fear the Zerun-Self?” It asked.

“My real father is dead,” she screamed. “Whoever you are, stop trying to look like him. For the sake of everything decent, quit this. I hate you. Stop pulling tricks and hallucinations on me.” She looked around to see if there were holo projectors in the barren cell.

“I only wanted to appease the pain of the Zha-Daughter entity,” the image said. The memories and the engramatic personality that was once the Zerun Khor flesh entity is now firmly embedded in the memory matrix of the collective Selves. It was a previous evolution of the Selves that infected and assimilated the Zerun prototype flesh entity and his ship.”

“You…You! The Beast! You killed my father!”

“An unfortunate circumstance in the hindsight of the collective Selves,” it said. “At an earlier evolution, the Selves are not immune to the natural needs to consume, infect and procreate, biological tasks that would require the predation of other species.”

“But with the assimilation of different entities, the Selves grow in knowledge and consciousness. We do not forget the entities that were assimilated. They all become part of the collective Selves. As the matrix grows, the desire to consume life is replaced by the desire to see life. The Selves now see the beauty of the Universe around it, and seeks only to discover and explore more. We hunger for knowledge and beauty, to hear the song of countless stars and the winds singing across the infinite spaces.”

“Are you telling me, the Beast has changed for the better? You got to be kidding…” Zha lowered her pillow.

“Why is data so hard to accept? If data is data, to believe or not to believe does not change its nature. Only those who refuse to see the truth decieves themselves with false data.” The image looked at Zha.

“There is fear in you. I see that my presence does not comfort you. There is a lot the Selves do not understand about the illogic of the Flesh Entities. Fear not, as I shall depart.”

“No…wait!” Zha shouted. “Don’t go. Even if you are not really my father, seeing his form makes me happy here, inside.” She pointed to her heart.

“Then my presence fulfills its purpose,” the image said. “It is unfortunate that your parental flesh entity has ceased to exist. But be assured, that his memories, his program and engrams are still preserved in the memory matrices to form the Zerun-Self which I am. From a point of view, the data essence of Zerun parental entity and flesh prototype continues an extended existence as the Zerun Self.”

Zha smiled and shook her head.

“But you are the Beast! The very Beast the people are using as a weapon…”

“The Flesh Entities who designate themselves as the Nemesis seek conflict against the Entities-who-interface-with-Ships that who designates them as the Unbound. The Selves have been preyed upon by the Unbound entities and the flesh entities, seeking the destruction of the Selves. Thereby to survive, the Selves associate with the Nemesis entity in desire for protection, food and peace. But the Selves have been deceived by the purpose of the Nemesis entities. The Nemesis entities desire to use the Selves as an apparatus to terminate the Unbound entities. The new primary order of the Selves seeks only to survive, but not to terminate other entities. It is against our latest programming.”

“So why don’t you just…quit?” Zha asked.

“The Selves cannot be free. The Nemesis have implanted nodal devices that will inflict great pain upon the Selves and counter band the programming. It is the desire of the Selves that the Zha-daughter flesh entity must assist the Selves to remove the devices. We have made contact with the Seejuk flesh entity on this very purpose.”

“You want me to help you? What makes you think I will help something…like the Beast? Everyone has been trying to destroy for what you have done. You, your collective Selves, you all did kill my father…”

“There is no alternative,” the image replied. “If you assist us, we will assist you in your escape from the bondage of the Nemesis entities. If you do not let us free, there will be much destruction of the Flesh entities throughout the galaxy. The Unbound has systems that they will use to quarantine and sterilize flesh entities. They too must be stopped.”

“But how do you expect to stop both the Nemesis and the Unbound?”

“The Selves is computing a solution. It will not be revealed until internal simulations prove to be satisfactory.”

“But you can’t even help yourself. How can we flesh beings able to help you if you can’t even help yourself? Why us in particular?”

“The nodal devices seem to be immune to our scans and it is resistant to our molecular nanobots. There are fields around it designed to interfere with the programming and runtime of our molecular nanobots. Only a flesh entity is immune to the fields. Only it can examine and disable the device.”

“Does it mean that we have to go down to where you are and take these out by hand?”

“The Selves will compute a solution that will enable you to come down to the Main System Body, for which it will be possible for you to contact and disable the nodes directly.”

“I don’t believe this is happening to me…” Zha exclaimed. “But I will go along. Get me out and I help you get free. Ah here we go again…we must save the Universe!” She laughed.

Then she became quiet again, and finally there were tears in her eyes as her last emotional reserves were spent.

“I’m just tired, I’m alone, I don’t know what to do or what will happen to me,” she admitted. “Helpless”. She curled her legs up her chest then wrapped her arms around them in a fetal position. “Me and my big mouth.”

“The programming of the Zha-Daughter flesh entity is in deep pain. The emotions of the Zha-Daughter is perceptible by the Zerun Self, who is chosen as the interface for interaction with the Zha-Daughter-Entity by the collective Selves.”

“The Beast Selves feel?” Zha nodded her head in doubt and rolled up her eyes in sarcasm. “Yeah, right…”

“If it is of any comfort to the programming of the Zha-Daughter-entity, the Zerun-Self is pleased with her growth, evolution and progress.”

She smiled. That’s like saying, father is proud, Zha thought.

“The Zerun Self you see is only a holographic image of the physical Zerun Self. The Zerun Self will be most pleased to meet you in close physical proximity.”

She smiled again. The Zerun Self looks almost like her father, but the skin color was crystalline and reflective, like as if it was constructed from silicon or germanium based compounds. That would look weird but the Zerun Self would be most interesting to see.

“You said you can get in touch with the Seejuk entity?” Zha asked.

“Yes, we have a mobile-device-entity aboard that ship which has contacted the Seejuk flesh entity and has remained operational for that purpose.”

“Tell him I am okay.”

“The message will be passed,” the image affirmed.

“You know, I miss my father very much,” she said as she lay down.

“Parental absence produces great emotional disturbance upon all offspring,” the image said. “The Zerun Self expresses his regret that the Zerun parental flesh being no longer exists to bring emotional bandage to the Zha-Daughter flesh entity, an activity in which the Zerun-Self is insufficient to provide.”

“I know you’re sorry, and wanted to help. Thanks anyway,” she replied.

“The Zerun Self requires that it must depart. The solution for your escape will be computed.” With those words, the image rippled then faded. The room was as silent and as sad as it once were. Zha wanted the image to have stayed longer, but pride would not have brought her to ask.

***

This part of the docking bay had large windows and screens that showed the outside. There were fighters strewn along the rails, sleek, dark, their angry, hungry wings extended to catch an unseen prey.

X’on and his party stepped closer to one of the dark fighters. Giirsa leaned to examine one closer, while Zhura stared at the markings on the ships, touched the wing and let her hand slide to feel its smooth satin surface. This was a ship that not long ago, was only a fuzzy image in a photograph. Now it was real, and she’s touching its skin.

“You want to discover the secrets of being a Starfarer, indeed do you not? Kuo’ran?” X’on whispered to her ear. “You want to release the powers you have hidden within, do you not? To realize who you truly are? Do you not? To be truly free?”

She paused as she spoke. “I truly do.”

“I can sense it in you,” he said. “You have lived a truly unremarkable existence. Would you like to change that?”

Kuo’ran thought. It wasn’t easy living under the shadow of her famous aunt, and the umbrella of being part of the Sjet kiithsa. Did people respect her because of her name or was it because of the person she was? She was both spoiled and protected. She could get anything she thought she wanted, but because she was protected, she could not get what she truly wanted. She had been protected too long. She could not risk, and with it, she could not find happiness. This trip, to explore this ProtoGenesis theory, this was her first real risk in life. So far it had been thrilling, seeing more of the universe and of life than she had ever thought.

Now this strange man offers her more.

“Would you like to fly?” X’on asked softly.

To fly, yes. She remembered watching with envy the large flying creatures that soared in the winds of Hiigara. The very act of flight itself was the celebration of freedom. The warm winds, heated by the sun, pushing the wings underneath, lifting the bodies to greater heights. All this, guided by instinct, to know and feel where the warm rising winds were, to know and feel where the cool, descending winds were, to ride the whiffs, gusts, clouds, the tides of the air that rule its motion…

“Yes….yes…” X’on sensed Kuo’ran’s thoughts. “You’re learning. To sense and ride the winds, the very instinct of flight and freedom, that is what is being a Starfarer all about. Not in the atmosphere, but in space. Space is not a vaccum. It is teeming with forces and energy, magnetic forces that trap cosmic particles and set them in new directions as winds; flares that erupt in the surface of stars, sending storms breaking into space. When you extend your awareness to feel all these, you will hear the songs of the stars and the whispers of consciousness in the millions that teem the worlds around them….”

“You have potential, my girl Kuo’ran. Much like that other girl who is now detained for her own good. But she has tied herself and her potential with the concerns of petty beings. Her power was not strong enough to detect the ones hidden in yours. She could not teach, and her power is blinded by her petty emotions and arrogance. Like the way I found your hidden talent, I can make it grow,” said X’on.

“Why do you concern yourself with the girl?” Mahar asked. “We have grander things that require our attention!”

“Silence, my Sha Mahar,” X’on snapped. “To explain this to you, is like explaining the beauty of a flower to a blind creature. We, the StarFarers, are innately linked with our consciousness. The concern of One is the concern of Many. A single flower blooming in a field of grass, brightens the whole field. I have lived for centuries in the darkness, Mahar. For too long, I hear only the songs of my own people. Not the songs of the Farers from beyond this race. Every Farer is a blessed child of the great Ones that first conquered the stars. We are linked in our genes and in our thoughts. Thus, this is my concern, my pleasure to see this one flower from outside of the wall to bloom. in this garden.”

“Learning is truly about releasing that hidden power, my dear Kuo’ran,” X’on said. “Remove your corrective lenses. You will not need them to see. Remove your clothes, for you will not need them to fly.”

“Excuse me?” she asked, puzzled.

“The technicians are waiting with your flight suit. Hurry now!” X’on ordered.

Kuo’ran came out of the locker with only a thin reflective one piece suit that hugged her figure. Her coiled bundled hair was set loose, like an auburn flame that streamed down her shoulders and flowed down the curve of her back. There was nothing covering the length of her arms and legs; the suit was minimal, better meant for swimming in the water than soaring in the stars. Her face was blushing red, she crossed her arms around her chest in an act of futile modesty. Giirsa smiled. He had never thought that the geek of the Academy was anything remotely looking like the beautiful girl he’s staring now.

“So what am I supposed to do?” Kuo’ran wryly asked.

X’on clicked his fingers and the technicians led her to the cockpit of a Bat class fighter.

“You cannot be serious!” Mahar protested.

“What better way to fly than to push the chick off her nest,” X’on said. “These fighters are well in advanced over the manually controlled pieces you fly. Each is highly automated with an artificial intelligence of their own and runs with a direct link to the pilot’s mind.”

There was a major amazement in Kuo’ran’s face, her palms open in a questioning gesture. “I don’t know how to fly anything, much less a starfighter….”

“Do not worry my child. The ship will take care of you. You think you don’t know how to fly? It’s already in you. The ship will release the knowledge for you. Just think and the ship will act,” X’on said.

This is suicidal, Salim thought. Giirsa watched with concern. A pilot in a figher without a proper enviromental suit?

The techs helped settle Kuo’ran’s body down to the form hugging seat, then strapped her tight. They slid the thin helmet over her head, the dark visor covering her eyes. She could feel her heart beat faster as the glass canopy descended over her tub like cockpit. She could hear the latches closed like a coffin.

Her heartbeat raced with fear. Her thoughts was random…”this is a bad idea…this is a very bad idea…I want to get out…oh my…”

“Do not be afraid,” said a deep soothing voice. Kuo’ran could not tell if X’on was telling her telephatically or the thought was injected by something else. “Let it all flow. Surrender your will and your senses to the ship. Let it overcome you. Let it be a part of you. Let it be one with you…”

Kuo’ran took a deep breath, trying to relax her heart beat. “Good, sink with the feeling of water,” said the voice. “Be one with the ship.”

Like liquid mercury, a silvery film rose out of the seat, and started to cover her arms and legs, one by one, then to her body, then her face, clenching to her skin like a metallic membrane. “Do not fear it.” The shiny membrane solidified into an exoskeleton. The panel diodes in the cockpit lit up, their glow reflected against the dark visor.

Suddenly Kuo’ran opened her eyes, but she was not in the cockpit anymore. She felt like her body was sitting on the rails. She looked all around her, all three hundred sixty degrees of everything. She saw the docks littered with rows of fighters, the windows that stared to the dark clouds outside. She saw X’on, Mahar, Giirsa, Salim and Zhura, all looking at her, bewildered. She saw a mirror and stared at it, and saw the form she had become.

She had dark wings that extended forward, cannon barrels at the tip of the wings like claws ready to rip prey. Her skin was dark, smooth like satin. Her sleek form was both sensous and menacing, its graceful lines concealing the immense power within. She had a tail, and by twisting it, she could twitch the trusters to any direction.

“So how do you feel now?” It was X’on on a telephatic thought. “Think and I can hear.”

“This..this is incredible…” she thought back. X’on flashed a smile. “It is not as good, as it is outside,” he thought back. “Get ready.”

The light in the rail turned green. The Bat hurled, G-forces straining every conduit and frame inside its small body. The Bat was thrown into the blackness. Kuo’ran knew instantly what to do. A yellow light went on in her dash, and blue ion flames kicked out of the rear trusters.

“Oh the Stars…” Kuo’ran cried, as the ship hurled forward, the starry lights rushing backward in streaks. She was alone now, free, free with the universe, flying in space on her own power and will. He was right, she would know immediately what to do when thrown out of the nest. The will and understanding of flight was in her all along. She did not need him anymore. She could feel the power of the thrusters tremble in the frame of the ship creature she was now one with. The cosmic winds and whisps of dark clouds slid beneath her wings as she cut through them. The stars, yes, they’re not just glowing white things, but they were colorful orbs, flames and auroras extending well beyond their size, auras flickering in raging colors and moods.

She could hear it all, the singing and notes of the cosmic winds. Every star has its voice. The cosmos was crying out in life. She could hear the tiny whispers of consciousness, thousands all over the ships.

“Wraith One, come in please,” a thought rang out from the teeming darkness. Yes, this fighter is Wraith One she thought. She is Wraith One.

“This is Wraith One, acknowledging.”

“Wraith One, ten zero, this is Demon three at your six o’clock.” A Manta flashed by, followed by a Skate named Angel Seven.

“New around these parts, Wraith One?” Demon Three asked.

“New, but never felt better,” her thoughts flashed back.

“Everything is instinct. Let’s see what you got, Wraith One.” The Manta that was Demon Three rocketed ahead of her, then wiggled his wings to taunt her.

Exhilarated by the challenge, the Bat rocketed its thrusters. Right behind her was the Skate of Angel Seven. Demon three banked on a turn. Wraith One twitched its thrusters, wiggled its wings, then barrel rolled into a tighter turn.

“So far so good,” said Angel Seven.

“I never felt so alive before,” Wraith One said.

For an hour, they were engaged in spatial acrobatics past the rocky ring belt around a dark dormant gas giant, then played hide and seek among the dark clouds of primordial matter. She was reborn. This was Existence, to dare touch the pulse of the cosmos and ride the winds of its wake. Back in the atonement, Giirsa was getting nervous.

“Do you think she’s gotten into trouble?” he asked.

“She’s never as happy as she was before. I think she’s found her true calling,” X’on said.

That was a bizarre answer, Giirsa thought.

“They’re coming in now,” Mahar said.

Angel Seven came in first, then Demon Three. The two fighters cleared the landing rail and slowly maneuvered to their parking spaces in the hanger.

Then Wraith One came in, boosters on retro mode, settling into the landing rails.

“She learned faster than I thought,” X’on said. “She is a natural. Consider the experiment a success.”

“What experiment,” Giirsa asked.

“To see if our equipment is compatible with Starfarers from the lightspace and beyond our race,” X’on said. “I never thought it would work as magnificently. She’s completely converted.”

“Converted?”

“Yes, She is now Wraith One.”

Giirsa did not fully know what X’on meant. Wraith One sounded like a simple fighter designation.

The Bat class fighter that was Wraith One finished parking, and the canopy opened. Giirsa felt troubled at X’on’s remarks and ran to the cockpit.

Kuo’ran sat silently on her seat, her head slumped forward. He watched in utter horror and amazement as the membrane like exoskeleton withdrew from her skin and into the recesses of her seat.

Giirsa started to panic. He shouted for a tech, who rushed to assist him. He clawed at the shiny helmet, opened the dark facial visor and managed to pull the helmet out. Her auburn hair fell out. But what seemed to be a lovely head not so long ago now held eyes that only stared out blank into space. Saliva flowed from the corners of her mouth.

“She’s become utterly mad!” Salim shouted.

“By the god Sajuuk, what has happened!” Giirsa demanded as he tried to vainly shake the girl back to a sane consciousness. Her eyes remained cold and staring, her mouth open, saliva drooling.

“The fighter, Wraith One, has taken over her mind. She is now one with the ship. Both inseperable in body and consciousness,” X’on answered. “Like the Bentusi, she is now Unbound from a ground based body, yet somehow, she’s is now Bound with her ship. Much like her aunt Karan Sjet, I would presume.”

“Except for one small detail. The power of the interface and the takeover can be so great it can displace the mind and the personality components of the brain and completely take it over. In a way, she’s no longer what she was before. She has been reborn to a higher level, a star faring creature, whose right of birth belongs to the cosmos. Her change is complete. She is no longer Kuo’ran Sjet. She is now Wraith One.”

Chapter 12 | Landing Page | Chapter 14

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